In answer to a question from a keen AS scholar regarding the vulnerability of the current government, this may be useful as an overview into the nine defeats Cameron’s governments have suffered in the House of Commons since 2010:
David Cameron’s coalition government was defeated six times in the House of Commons:
- 6 December 2011 – A motion ‘That this House has considered the matter of the economy’ was defeated by 79–213. Such a motion is normally agreed without a division but the Opposition forced a vote for which the Government whips were unprepared.
- 31 October 2012 – A rebel amendment calling for a real terms cut in the European Union budget was passed by 307-294.
- 29 August 2013 – A motion provisionally authorising military intervention in the Syrian civil war was defeated 285-272.
- 16 July 2014 – A Ten Minute Rule motion on a bill authorising the Office for Budget Responsibility to scrutinize Opposition manifestos was passed 203–16, after the Opposition forced a division aimed to catch the new Chief Whip, Michael Gove, off-guard in his first full day in office.
- 5 September 2014 – A private member’s bill by Lib Dem MP Andrew George to restrict the cases in which the under-occupancy penalty could be levied was passed 306–231, with the coalition partners imposing three-line whips on opposite sides of the debate.
- 18 November 2014 – A Lib Dem rebel amendment giving more freedom to pub landlords to negotiate rents and beer prices with their parent pub chain was passed 284–269.
David Cameron’s majority government (post-last May) has been defeated three times in the House of Commons:
- 7 July 2015 – An emergency motion laid down by Lib Dem MP and former Secretary of State for Scotland Alistair Carmichael “That this House has considered the means by which the Government seeks to deliver the objectives outlined by the Leader of the House in his Statement on English Votes on English Laws” was defeated 2–291.
- 7 September 2015 – EU Referendum Bill – Ministers wanted to amend so-called “purdah” rules which limit government activity during the campaign period. But rebel Tory MPs, along with Labour and the SNP, ensured the move was blocked by 312 votes to 285.
- 9 March 2016 – Government plans to allow English and Welsh councils to extend Sunday Trading opening hours were defeated in the Commons by 317 votes to 286, as 27 Conservatives rebelled.
These are potentially useful for various aspects of the course, for example:
Unit 2 Parliament
- All of these are good examples of the power of parliament to check the power of the executive branch and government – despite the power of the whip in a fused powers legislative.
- Similarly the dangers for any administration of governing with such a small majority.
- The importance of backbench rebels and significance of third parties
Unit 2 The Prime Minister and Cabinet
- These are fascinating insights into the limits Cameron faces as PM. The first six where subject to the complexities of coalition government with the Lib Dems; the latest three are once again sobering reminders for Cameron of his small majority. He’s suffered three in under twelve months – compare this to Tony Blair’s government, he suffered only four defeats in the House of Commons during his whole decade in office (and all these were within a period of one year!). Needless to say that Mark Harper MP (current Chief Whip) is one busy man!
Unit 1 Policies & Ideas
- Each of these examples is relevant to any understanding of political parties and policy divisions. Party factions feature in many of them too (e.g. last September’s EU Referendum Bill and the Euro skeptics).
… Over to you!!